Gold Medal for Enjoyment

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Two brief sections to this post: the conceptual part and the neurobics (practical) part.

Conceptual: Norway won the most gold medals at the Olympics. Again.

Buried deep in the Olympics coverage was a story about how Norway often wins the most medals at the winter Olympics because they don’t worry about success.

There’s a cultural focus in Norway on participation in various physical activities and sports for the enjoyment of it and the love of the sport.  Even for their Olympic athletes. 

Essentially, they win a lot of medals by not hyper-focusing on the goal of winning medals.

These concepts are essential to the Funtensity paradigm: instilling a sense of enjoyment around physical activity AND creating a fun, friendly sense of camaraderie around competition rather than basing competition on defeating others.  The previous post was about creating a fun and enjoyable warm-up. This one will focus on bringing enjoyment to everyday movement.

Practical: “Neurobics”

I was asked to contribute to an article on neurobics – combined aerobics with mental exercise – by John Hanc, author of the new book, Strong Heart, Sharp Mind.  The main concept behind Funtensity and neurobics as discussed in the article is to combine thinking with moving.

We too often segregate and separate these two. We sit and think at work or while studying and then we go workout where we often “don’t want to think.”  Combining think and move in the right amounts creates a better subjective experience AND is better for long-term brain health. 

Here are a few ideas on how to combine them:

Letter Runs

Map out a rectangular space with cones or pillows in your room or your backyard or basement. Then run (or walk) the letters of your grandchild’s name or the name of your favorite movie.  There’s a lot of multi-directional running, which is physically challenging.  And you need to think about the next letter and what movements to use create each letter. Again, you’re thinking and moving.

Here are some videos showing additional ideas we explore in the article and book that you can use while going for a walk in a video series I created several years ago called “The Walking Games”

There are interesting ideas from other people too in the article like the one from Katie DuBois of Western Racquet in Wisconsin where you make a ‘peace sign’ with one hand and the ‘ok sign’ with the other hand and then switch the two.  And another from a different professional where you hold a broomstick or long pole horizontally with both hands and draw an infinity symbol with it. 

These ideas can be great additions to warm-ups, walking, and even challenging exercises. When you go for fun, you end up winning the gold medal.  Not necessarily of the Olympics, but you win the gold medal for that moment by maximizing the benefit to your mood, mindset, body, and brain.

[If you would like to read the full Neurobics article, you can find it here (and fitness pros can earn CECs by taking the quiz associated with the article.)]

[If you’re curious, here’s the article I read about Norway’s athletes: How does Norway dominate the Winter Olympics? By not worrying about success.]

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